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  • Disturbing chain of events

    So a referral from a long time realtor client of mine(another realtor) calls me and begs me to come and consult on a 14 month chronic backed up bathroom drain, so I dedide that I want to at least give her my .02 because of who the referral was from. So over the phone she explained to me that she had 7 other plumbing/rooter compaines, and they all come, solve the problem for at most 2 months, then the problem comes back just as bad as before.

    One side of the house is completely ok, the kitchen sink, and hall bathroom are the problem lines.

    So on arrival (Thurs PM) I see the mess that is her bathroom, sewage in bathtub, flush makes it rise, water in kitchen sink make it rise, so I ask if there are any pipes visible in the garage below, her response to me was shocking to say the least.(Of all the plumbers I have had here, no one had asked to look below to see what could be seen.) She shows me to the garage, and what I find there, confirms for me that the blockage has to be somewhere between a 3" ABS riser(with a 45-45 vertical offset at the bottom) and a 2" branch line 3' or so away under the garage floor that served a garage level laundry and sink. So I recommend to her that a cleanout be installed in the stand up crawl adjacent to the garage, but that I couldn't install it that day, but that I could get a parts list together so that when she called a drain clean company they could send their tech out with the parts required for the install(because I didn't own a big machine). Then she starts going on a rant about not trusting any of the companies that she had called, and could I please squeeze it in, rent the equipment as necessary. So I juggled my schedule and took the job, prepped her for the +/- $200 cleanout install, then +/- $200 snake job(if I have to rent the snake etc.) and +/- $400 video inspection.

    Friday AM I go there and start cutting the stack to install my cleanout, and the agitation of the pipe by the sawzall was enough to free the stoppage(my lucky day I thought-no sewage shower). So I let it drain and continue to cut after all the water had drained. Finished the cut and bang, something falls inside the pipe. That was weird I thought, pulled the ABS pipes apart to see what I could see and I found 2 pieces (that were 1 before I sawzalled through it) of 1.25" or so thin walled pipe(the kind used in the inexpensive vollyball net kits) total length of the 2 pieces was about 4'(scarred badly from the numerous beatings with various cables etc.), enough to cause exactly the problem she was having, so I get on the phone to the owner and tell her my findings, and recommend that as much as I wanted to video inspect the line there was really no call for it, and that I would rather have her repeat business than to take advantage of her. She agreed that would be the correct course of action, and told me to stop by the office for a check after I finished up.

    Installed the cleanout, cleaned up, processed the invoice, drove to her office to get the check. A very happy customer.

    My questions to you all:
    1: Shouldn't plumbers 2-7 have spent a bit more time asking questions and truly diagnosing the situation?
    2: How did the pole get in there? Evil prank during construction? Dropped down the vent pipe?
    3: What is the most unusual things that you have found in a sewer/drain line?

    Greg

  • #2
    Re: Disturbing chain of events

    Originally posted by glkearns View Post
    So a referral from a long time realtor client of mine(another realtor) calls me and begs me to come and consult on a 14 month chronic backed up bathroom drain, so I dedide that I want to at least give her my .02 because of who the referral was from. So over the phone she explained to me that she had 7 other plumbing/rooter compaines, and they all come, solve the problem for at most 2 months, then the problem comes back just as bad as before.

    One side of the house is completely ok, the kitchen sink, and hall bathroom are the problem lines.

    So on arrival (Thurs PM) I see the mess that is her bathroom, sewage in bathtub, flush makes it rise, water in kitchen sink make it rise, so I ask if there are any pipes visible in the garage below, her response to me was shocking to say the least.(Of all the plumbers I have had here, no one had asked to look below to see what could be seen.) She shows me to the garage, and what I find there, confirms for me that the blockage has to be somewhere between a 3" ABS riser(with a 45-45 vertical offset at the bottom) and a 2" branch line 3' or so away under the garage floor that served a garage level laundry and sink. So I recommend to her that a cleanout be installed in the stand up crawl adjacent to the garage, but that I couldn't install it that day, but that I could get a parts list together so that when she called a drain clean company they could send their tech out with the parts required for the install(because I didn't own a big machine). Then she starts going on a rant about not trusting any of the companies that she had called, and could I please squeeze it in, rent the equipment as necessary. So I juggled my schedule and took the job, prepped her for the +/- $200 cleanout install, then +/- $200 snake job(if I have to rent the snake etc.) and +/- $400 video inspection.

    Friday AM I go there and start cutting the stack to install my cleanout, and the agitation of the pipe by the sawzall was enough to free the stoppage(my lucky day I thought-no sewage shower). So I let it drain and continue to cut after all the water had drained. Finished the cut and bang, something falls inside the pipe. That was weird I thought, pulled the ABS pipes apart to see what I could see and I found 2 pieces (that were 1 before I sawzalled through it) of 1.25" or so thin walled pipe(the kind used in the inexpensive vollyball net kits) total length of the 2 pieces was about 4'(scarred badly from the numerous beatings with various cables etc.), enough to cause exactly the problem she was having, so I get on the phone to the owner and tell her my findings, and recommend that as much as I wanted to video inspect the line there was really no call for it, and that I would rather have her repeat business than to take advantage of her. She agreed that would be the correct course of action, and told me to stop by the office for a check after I finished up.

    Installed the cleanout, cleaned up, processed the invoice, drove to her office to get the check. A very happy customer.

    My questions to you all:
    1: Shouldn't plumbers 2-7 have spent a bit more time asking questions and truly diagnosing the situation?
    2: How did the pole get in there? Evil prank during construction? Dropped down the vent pipe?
    3: What is the most unusual things that you have found in a sewer/drain line?

    Greg
    We had been in our shop for several years when all of a sudden the water closet started having problems. When I dropped my camera in the line it turned out the guy in the shop next to me dropped a whole bunch of 24" plate straps down the vent when he got evicted. I had to jackhammer out the floor to get to the plate straps and remove them.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Disturbing chain of events

      Nice Work!

      My favorite thing is resolving some long standing issue others have failed at. So many drain cleaners are thoughtless... shove cable in hole til water goes away (or doesn't), then pack up and bill.

      I had a similar one; cleared clog but something was rattling in the line as I pulled my cable back; camera'd it, saw it, pushed it into a stack and followed it down 3 floors to the paking garage, located it and pulled a no-hub apart and got it; about a 4" long piece of 1 1/4" copper; had to go in at construction.

      Pulled so many things out... tooth brushes, ving cards, a driver's liscence, a cell phone, tennis ball, ring of keys, Batman, Pluto (the dog, not the planet), cleanout plugs, galvy nipples, shards of busted PVC, other guys' lost cables, 6" adjustable wrench, a glove, a Stanley knife (that one got me a $2400/yr maint contract; Christmas night and the guys who cleaned it regularly didn't answer the phone), chunks of lumber, sticks and rocks, shot glasses....got over $8 in change out of one bar drain... got done, sat down and ordered a burger and fries and paid for it with drain change. The list goes on and on. The best was probably the vanity sink line I did 2 or 3 times, same thing each time.... 50+ whole double peanuts still in the shell... all I can figure was a squirrel was storing them in the vent and someone was feeding the squirrel.
      This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Disturbing chain of events

        You would think by number 3 somebody would have ran the camera down even if the customer wouldn't pay for it just to cover them selfs on the job, doesn't take too long for a quick peek with no dvd or commentary needed. But it's the weird ones like this job that burn ya. Things that you don't expect to be wrong. But like roto rooter most of there vans don't have a camera on board they call the one van with the camera only if the customer wants a warranty or will pay for it. Strange things in the pipe? Well I don't know about strange but the worse I have seen is concrete from an evicted tenant that got to set up for a month.
        Seattle Drain Service

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Disturbing chain of events

          Cuda, I just have to say I love your avatar photo...is that you? Why'd you give up on electrical work? Who let you do that while they took the photo lol?
          This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Disturbing chain of events

            Originally posted by glkearns View Post
            So a referral from a long time realtor client of mine(another realtor) calls me and begs me to come and consult on a 14 month chronic backed up bathroom drain, so I dedide that I want to at least give her my .02 because of who the referral was from. So over the phone she explained to me that she had 7 other plumbing/rooter compaines, and they all come, solve the problem for at most 2 months, then the problem comes back just as bad as before.

            One side of the house is completely ok, the kitchen sink, and hall bathroom are the problem lines.

            So on arrival (Thurs PM) I see the mess that is her bathroom, sewage in bathtub, flush makes it rise, water in kitchen sink make it rise, so I ask if there are any pipes visible in the garage below, her response to me was shocking to say the least.(Of all the plumbers I have had here, no one had asked to look below to see what could be seen.) She shows me to the garage, and what I find there, confirms for me that the blockage has to be somewhere between a 3" ABS riser(with a 45-45 vertical offset at the bottom) and a 2" branch line 3' or so away under the garage floor that served a garage level laundry and sink. So I recommend to her that a cleanout be installed in the stand up crawl adjacent to the garage, but that I couldn't install it that day, but that I could get a parts list together so that when she called a drain clean company they could send their tech out with the parts required for the install(because I didn't own a big machine). Then she starts going on a rant about not trusting any of the companies that she had called, and could I please squeeze it in, rent the equipment as necessary. So I juggled my schedule and took the job, prepped her for the +/- $200 cleanout install, then +/- $200 snake job(if I have to rent the snake etc.) and +/- $400 video inspection.

            Friday AM I go there and start cutting the stack to install my cleanout, and the agitation of the pipe by the sawzall was enough to free the stoppage(my lucky day I thought-no sewage shower). So I let it drain and continue to cut after all the water had drained. Finished the cut and bang, something falls inside the pipe. That was weird I thought, pulled the ABS pipes apart to see what I could see and I found 2 pieces (that were 1 before I sawzalled through it) of 1.25" or so thin walled pipe(the kind used in the inexpensive vollyball net kits) total length of the 2 pieces was about 4'(scarred badly from the numerous beatings with various cables etc.), enough to cause exactly the problem she was having, so I get on the phone to the owner and tell her my findings, and recommend that as much as I wanted to video inspect the line there was really no call for it, and that I would rather have her repeat business than to take advantage of her. She agreed that would be the correct course of action, and told me to stop by the office for a check after I finished up.

            Installed the cleanout, cleaned up, processed the invoice, drove to her office to get the check. A very happy customer.

            My questions to you all:
            1: Shouldn't plumbers 2-7 have spent a bit more time asking questions and truly diagnosing the situation?
            2: How did the pole get in there? Evil prank during construction? Dropped down the vent pipe?
            3: What is the most unusual things that you have found in a sewer/drain line?

            Greg
            The 1.25" pipe was probably a remnant of an old TV antennae. I've seen it a couple of times. People used to stick them in the vent pipes to mount them on the roof.
            Pete
            Drain Biz
            Articles, Videos, Industry News

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Disturbing chain of events

              Originally posted by Ace Sewer View Post
              Cuda, I just have to say I love your avatar photo...is that you? Why'd you give up on electrical work? Who let you do that while they took the photo lol?
              Lol it is not me I found it on the net but it does look like my 1967 photos of me the hair,black and white etc. And when I was little I did stupid stuff like that because I had to mess with everything!
              Seattle Drain Service

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Disturbing chain of events

                I wouldve still video inspected the lines as a good service to your customer, not as taking advantage. I would want to make sure everything is out of the lines. Even though you did a great service, and great job by the way, how bad would you look if after left, there was still more debris caught up in an offset and it blocked up again.

                Your probably right with the construction, maybe not a prank, but could be.

                I run into these things every once in awhile. The best calls i get are the calls that my former companies cant get open, and i go out and shine like a champion. Its happened many times.

                I think one of the weirdest calls i did, i cut a stack in a basement in philly to reveal that a piece of carpet about 8ft long, 2ft wide was stuck in the line
                The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

                www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Disturbing chain of events

                  I am shocked that nobody asked to see the plumbing below!!!! Thats the first thing I want to know is the drain layout on a stoppage call.
                  Its sad how poorly some of our 'peers' perform on the job, like the guy in the other thread with the leaves and a balloon in his drain who called roto-rooter and got a kid who didn't do squat and still tried to charge him for 5 hours of nothing.
                  Sad.
                  Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Disturbing chain of events

                    Originally posted by Pete M View Post
                    The 1.25" pipe was probably a remnant of an old TV antennae. I've seen it a couple of times. People used to stick them in the vent pipes to mount them on the roof.
                    My code specifically prohibits "flagpoling" for this reason.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Disturbing chain of events

                      greg, good job at being through and professional.

                      anytime i get a new customer, especially with a track record like this. i will spend some time to ask questions and look for myself.

                      by solving the problem and being a real professional, you will get the work that you otherwise turned away.

                      my suggestion

                      buy yourself a k-60 and you'll be covered for 90-95% of stoppages you'll encounter. takes up little room in the truck and will clean 1.5''-6'' with the proper cables.

                      you didn't think i could post without a k-60 plug, did you

                      once again, a very good job at getting to the bottom of this stoppage mystery.

                      rick.
                      phoebe it is

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Disturbing chain of events

                        Originally posted by Pete M View Post
                        The 1.25" pipe was probably a remnant of an old TV antennae. I've seen it a couple of times. People used to stick them in the vent pipes to mount them on the roof.
                        Don't think so, this one had a rubber foot on it, did/do antannae have these feet as well?

                        I wish I could make it to the Roundup, to meet everyone and see what is what with the K-60 (because all of my drianing experience is on various General drums), but the week before I am gone on a family camping trip, and I am sure I will have to get back to work in order to keep my contractors happy.

                        You got a good used K-60 you want to sell Rick? If so I may have to bring the kids down and see some of the sites down there this summer. My wife has been wanting to take the kids to Disneyland for along time. I keep telling her I want Oliver to be a little older, but I could cave...

                        Greg

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Disturbing chain of events

                          Originally posted by glkearns View Post
                          You got a good used K-60 you want to sell Rick? If so I may have to bring the kids down and see some of the sites down there this summer. My wife has been wanting to take the kids to Disneyland for along time. I keep telling her I want Oliver to be a little older, but I could cave...

                          Greg

                          greg, i would be glad to sell you a good new or used 750 or 7500, but my
                          k-60's are not for sale

                          let us know when you plan on coming to so. calif.

                          we'll throw a westcoast get together. plus joey loves disneyland

                          rick.
                          phoebe it is

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Disturbing chain of events

                            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                            greg, i would be glad to sell you a good new or used 750 or 7500, but my
                            k-60's are not for sale

                            rick.
                            it will be after the round up when he looses

                            sorry rick i had to do it
                            Charlie

                            My seek the peek fundraiser page
                            http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


                            http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

                            new work pictures 12/09
                            http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

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                            • #15
                              Re: Disturbing chain of events

                              Originally posted by HVAC HAWK View Post
                              it will be after the round up when he looses

                              sorry rick i had to do it
                              Whoa, look at Charlie, my man
                              The History of Sanitary Sewers Good site on the history of sanitary sewers and cleaners

                              www.thedrainsquad.net Our website

                              Comment

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